Riding the Dragon

September 21, 2015  From the Bull Penn

For me a dragon is anything that takes me for an “adventure” away from what I really want to do or accomplish over and over again.  What dragon are you riding? What is sweeping your time away from the important work that builds careers, projects, and programs? What is keeping you from writing that important paper or reviewing literature in that new area? Let’s identify it and tame it!

My new position has lived up to my hope that it would require me to stretch my skill set. I had no idea that managing an avalanche of email was the most critical skill I needed to master. In a period of 3 weeks, I went from 30 emails a week to ~60 a day. For the first two weeks I felt like I was hanging for dear life to a runaway dragon (my calendar also felt fiendish). How could I manage to achieve my vision for the department if all my time was spent managing this dragon rather than leading?

Luckily I have a coaching team and we are sharing life hacks, websites, and other tools for our leadership positions. I hope you too have a coaching team to help hold you accountable to yourself for working on your big picture goals and dreams! Now my email inbox is empty (inbox zero) and mostly stays that way.

My current email approach:

  • Don’t read or respond to email from 8 AM to 10 AM. I am trying to do significant and meaningful work during that time and don’t want to be distracted.
  • When I decide to ride the dragon, I rapidly categorize email. Only things marked urgent will get responded to right away (the same day).
  • Move email to different folders after they are categorized (urgent/do today, respond to later, read, file, hold temporarily, and send to someone else).
  • Each day move a few from the respond to later folder to the urgent/do today folder.
  • Read and file things when I am less alert, on a plane, or watching TV (Really, I don’t watch TV…but you get the picture).

If you are interested in reading some of the good articles I have on email overload, let me know, I will send you an email.

Gitty up dragon!



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